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Teen ‘Sexting’ Could Result In Criminal Charges, San Diego Police Say

Aired 11/7/13 on KPBS News.

Schools legally can’t access student’s personal devices, so San Diego police say it’s up to parents to monitor how minors are using phones, social media and the Internet.

WikiMedia

Many teens don't realize the lasting danger of sending illicit photos, according to San Diego Police Officer Jordan Wells.

San Diego police have been investigating the exchange of explicit photos of classmates among dozens of San Diego County teens in recent weeks.

The San Diego Police Department will host a meeting at Cathedral Catholic High School on Thursday to talk with community members about teen sexting and the concerns it raises.

The investigation into students exchanging nude photos could result in criminal charges for some teens. Because the pictures are of minors, they are child pornography. Having them on a phone or forwarding them to someone else is a criminal offense.

SDPD is seeing more cases of local teens exchanging illegal photos, according to Officer Jordan Wells who is hosting the community meeting. But he said the recent case is the first to involve so many students.

“We can get a conversation going and get people willing to have that hard conversation with their kids," Wells said about the Thursday meeting and additional meetings he hopes to organize in the future. "Because they're exposed, they’re being harmed and damage is happening to our kids and we’re not reacting and we need to react.”

Teens don’t realize photos can wind up with strangers and haunt them into the college application and job-hunting years, Wells said.

Some studies estimate that about 10 percent of middle and high school students nationwide have been involved in exchanging illicit photos, or "sexting," in some way.

Wells said schools legally can’t access student’s personal devices, so it’s up to parents to monitor how kids are using phones, social media and the Internet.

Thursday's meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Cathedral Catholic High School gymnasium at 5555 Del Mar Heights Road, San Diego.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 7, 2013 at 11:47 a.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

America's two biggest obcessions: sex and prisons/criminality

We are the world'd prison state, imprisoning far more people per capita than any other country by far - including Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

Unlike out European, Canadian and Japanese counterparts, we have an unnatural and ghoulish obcessions with prosecutions and locking people up.

In addition, we are a nation obcessed with sex.

Our culture encourages the sexualizarion of everything.

Take these two obcessions we have and one sees why our country has gone overboard with sex crimes, sex offender registries, and this irrational unproportionate focus on so called sex crimes.

Politicians, like our own nation Fletcher, calitalize on very rare events and pass sweeping laws that treat low level offenders with life-long penalties.

All this dealite statistics that show these laws DONT WORK.

Now we are registering teenagers as sex offenders, and making criminals out of curious minors exploring their sexuality not with adults but amongst their peers.

America has a serious, serious problem.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 7, 2013 at 3:20 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Actually, Mr. Duck, the teenagers who commit the crime of producing/sharing/possessing child pornography are the ones who are making criminals out of themselves. Since when does curious exploration include sending nude pictures of my willy around?

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | November 7, 2013 at 7:21 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

How about a slap on the wrist for some poor early life choices. There are probably some really good lessons learned. Possibly a wake up call for some parents about the misuse of cells/tablets. I don't see this as a sex crime, but rather teens being teens.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 8, 2013 at 9:58 a.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I know you don't see it as a sex crime, but according to the law it is a sex crime. Should we allow them to break the law? Or should we alter the law?

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 8, 2013 at 10:02 a.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

These laws, while they may seem unreasonable, are in place to prevent exploitation of children. If they lessened the criminality of these acts, this type of behavior would become more commonplace as the consequences would not be as severe. Older perverted people would probably begin enticing children to participate in this behavior more. It is illegal, it is child pornography, it is a very serious issue and the consequences should be severe.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | November 8, 2013 at 11:12 a.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I dont look at them as unreasonable, and while you are right about the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is more in line with adults taking advantage of minors. These are kids exploring their sexuality with one another. It's a tough situation to dissect. I don't know if there is a right answer because it's the parents point of view which really matters.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 8, 2013 at 12:29 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

JeanMarc, teenagers explore sexuality, and to ruin their lives by making them sex offenders before they are even out of school is counter-productive and more detrimental to society than it is helpful.

Your argument that "it's illegal" seems to imply every law that exists is good.

I don't believe that and I'm sure you don't either.

We have plenty of stupid laws that need to be repealed, and criminally charging a teenager for this is one of them.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | November 8, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm all for better laws. What would you propose PD? Somehting like the Romeo & Juliet clauses in statutory rape laws?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 8, 2013 at 12:43 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

How about if a teenager is caught sending nude pictures of themselves to another teenager, the matter is reported to their parents to deal with.

Does there really need to be a law ?

I thought we had minimal police and backed-up courts, why file charges against teenagers doing something like this?

By the way, my thought is they are trying to target a few kids to scare others to not do this.

The truth is, probably at least 50% of kids do this, I mean they all have cell phones now.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 8, 2013 at 12:49 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

"Teens don’t realize photos can wind up with strangers and haunt them into the college application and job-hunting years, Wells said."

---------------

Yeah, well how will having a sex crime on their record haunt them for the rest of their life?

I guess Wells isn't concerned with that.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 8, 2013 at 3:54 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

These kids parents need to teach their kids not to be idiots. I think that is the heart of the problem.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | November 9, 2013 at 4:05 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Do you believe there needs to be legal action if A sends pictures of A to B then B forwards those pictures of A to C (perhaps without A's consent)?

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Avatar for user 'AmyC'

AmyC | November 10, 2013 at 11:47 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Vermont enforces a "sexting" law very differently:

http://mobilemediaguard.com/states/sexting_laws_vermont.html

I know the above link is for a commercial "monitor your kid" app site but it appears the information on laws there is fairly accurate. Why don't more states create laws that recognize minor "sexting" as a lesser offense -- one deserving intervention but not the threat of a child porn charge?

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Avatar for user 'x76'

x76 | November 11, 2013 at 7:38 a.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

"Could result in CHARGES" over the decades I have noticed that cops love arresting anyone they can arrest for any kind of "sex crime" they can dream up. I won't go into the sordid details. But they're WAY too enthusiastic about it. Rather than counseling and discretion, whom in their right mind would consider "CHARGES" against some kid with a cell phone camera? The police, apparently.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 11, 2013 at 9:57 a.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

x76 it sounds like you were charged with a sex crime.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | November 11, 2013 at 10:22 a.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

San Diego law enforcement agencies have used 133 Galaxy tablets and smartphones which were distributed around the region in January of this year.

In the first 10 months of 2013, officers ran 5,629 queries through the database.

The sheriff’s department and San Diego Police Department has the most devices, with 64 devices. The most active single user is a San Diego State University police officer who used a device 224 times from January to Oct. 30.

An undergraduate was arrested for vandalizing Graffiti Hall at University of California at San Diego. He is awaiting trial. He was caught in the act by surveillance cameras.

Students can graffiti Walker Wall at Pomona College with impunity.
.
An article has been running in The New York Times this week saying how some snarky kid tweeted negative remarks about her homeroom teacher and had her offer of admissions to a prestigious college rescinded.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 11, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. ― 8 months, 2 weeks ago

thompsonrichard did you mean to post that comment in another article? It doesn't seem very relevant here... but maybe I am just missing something.

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